Friday, October 16, 2009

Tender Mercies

Such a sweet phrase... tender mercies. Elder Bednar made it part of every Mormon's working vocabulary when he gave this talk back in April of 2005. He defines a tender mercy of the Lord as "a most personal and timely message of comfort and reassurance" from the Savior, and challenges the assumption by many that these little blessings in our lives are the result of coincidence.

Apparently lots of people started watching for these little mercies in their own lives, but I was not overly aware of this phenomenon going on in my life – and I'm not proud of that statement. I loved the concept and his talk was my favorite of the conference, but once conference was over, it was back to "normal." Most days I was just too busy or too insensitive to realize on a personal level how intimately aware the Lord is of each of His children.

(And as I type that I am overwhelmed at the concept!)

But this year has been one of change and challenge for us. It seemed to start for me last Christmas season when I simply could not manage my usual Christmas letter to friends and family. I have written a fairly detailed update as a Christmas card insert every year for the past 29 years, mostly as a way to keep some sort of family record since my journal went the way of all the earth after I got married. I may have missed one other year, but never a banner year like 2008 was for us—the year in which our first two grandchildren were born and our only daughter was married! How could I let that pass?? I don't know. But I just could not find the energy to do it after helping my mom write and send her letter and cards, shopping for her and for me, wrapping for both of us, and so on. I just ran out of steam.

Then in January our kitties started having failing health and passed away within a month of each other. We were sad to see them go, but decided it was a sign that our home was meant to be filled with grandchildren, so we sanitized and moved on.

Then in May, my mom began to fail too. I've already written a post about that here. But what I haven't written about was that my husband lost his job due to downsizing the very same week. However, it was very soon evident that this was a cloud with the proverbial silver lining. Mom began needing more and more care and attention and Art was there, serving and caring for her when no one else was available. A tender mercy.

Once the funeral was done and life began to settle down, Art set about his job hunt with real focus—that focus being the end of severance pay in September! He had lots of interest and lots of interviews. He actually thought he had found The One by the end of July. But schedules kept having to be adjusted to make the final interview happen, and in the meantime, another (may I say really intimidating!) job interview came along. So Art prepared as though he didn't have anything else in the offing and he must have nailed it, because he got an offer the next day! And his start date? The Monday following the final Friday paycheck. A better job, better paycheck, better everything. Yup, another tender mercy. So grateful.

And I have been on my knees in gratitude, but the Lord had something else in store.... My brother Kevin and I have had our mom's Provo house up for sale. I've had really mixed feelings about this, as evidenced by my nostalgic post last winter. But for lots of reasons we decided it was time to let another family enjoy the mountains and views and blocks and blocks of wonderful neighbors that make up the tree streets. In due time a buyer made an offer and we accepted. But the buyer was from out of state, and final transaction schedules began to look like we would never meet the new person or persons who would "inherit" our family home. To make matters worse, the closing was planned for my mom's birthday - yesterday, Oct. 15. It was too much, and I started to come unraveled. I called my brother, talked to my kids, and just couldn't get my heart comfortable with giving up my nostalgia to a stranger whom I would never meet. So I called the real estate agent (the buyer's agent) and told her how I felt.
Fortunately, she was sympathetic and made arrangements for us to at least meet the buyer before Kevin and I were due to sign the papers on our end. We waited in the living room of this home of many memories and watched as the woman and her husband approached. She looked to be about 50, not too tall, and not too intimidating either. In fact, she looked very pleasant. Maybe this was going to be OK.

She came in with the agent and met Kevin first. Then I introduced myself. She said, "But you're a Dunn, aren't you?" How did she know my maiden name? Did I resemble my brother that much? Then she met Kevin's wife, and turned back to me and Kevin and said, "So you're Alice's kids." Wha-a-a-t?? Did someone tell her this was Alice's home? And then "You probably know my father...." Yes! Her father and step-mother lived not more than a block away from my parents for many years. She, in fact, lived there with them for a short time and knew our younger brother Scott. She knew our mom, and probably our dad. She had stories to tell about Mom's love of neighbor kids and how Mom handed out popsicles to her little brother when he stopped by and pulled a weed or two. Oh, relief! I could do this after all. I could let this lady have this home, rent it to her nephew, move in when she retires, whatever. She was Neighborhood! Mom and Dad would have been so pleased to know that all their love and care would be appreciated and indeed inherited by someone who had known and remembered them.

Today, the final papers were signed and as I think about it I choke up again, but not in anxiety this time. Rather in gratitude for the sure knowledge that somehow, among all the billions of prayers going heavenward, and all the people with problems so much greater than mine – somehow, He knew my own personal, private little heart and granted one more, ever so tender, mercy.


Jill said...

I loved this post Shelley. I too have had so many tender mercies during the past few years. I am amazed at how intimately my Father in Heaven knows me and knows exactly what my heart needs.

ColleenDown said...

Thank you for posting this Shelley. I have been wondering ever since you posted on FaceBook what had happened. I agree, they certainly aren't coincidences and our parents on the other side are probably much more aware of our lives than we may realize. I know how hard giving the house up was for you and I am glad that things are working out. I feel strongly that homes like everything else in this life have a "spirit" about them. Thanks again for sharing.